Hackers Take Over Government Websites in 3 States to Post Pro-ISIS Propaganda

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Government websites in Maryland, New York, and Ohio were hacked over the weekend. Instead of the usual landing pages, visitors to the sites were greeted by what appeared to be pro-ISIS messages displayed on a black background and featuring an Arabic symbol. An Islamic call to prayer also played in the background.

As reported by CNN, the text on the page stated, “You will be held accountable Trump,” continuing, “you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries.”

The last line read, “I Love Islamic state.”

A group going by the name “Team System DZ” appears to be responsible for hacking the official site of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio as well as the page of the Ohio first lady, Karen Kasich, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections site. All three of the websites displayed the same message.

Once the messages were discovered by government officials, the affected servers were taken offline. An investigation was also launched to determine how the incident occurred.

In a statement discussing the event, Tom Hoyt, the spokesman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, confirmed, “We are also working with law enforcement to better understand what happened.”

Josh Mandel, the state treasurer, shared a screenshot of the message over social media, saying, “Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland.”

The ISIS propaganda message also appeared on the website for Howard County, Maryland as well as the official site of the Town of Brookhaven, New York.

Allan H. Kittleman, the Howard County Executive, said, “There was no breach of data and no personal information was compromised.” He also confirmed the county was “working with law enforcement agencies” and that “an investigation is underway.”

As reported by CBS News, the group has previously claimed responsibility for similar hacks in Richland County, Wisconsin as well as Aberdeen, Scotland, and Sweden. The form of attack, commonly referred to as “defacement,” is often considered no more than a nuisance, though some hacks have been disruptive to government work.

It is not currently known who Team System DZ is or if they may be directly affiliated with ISIS. However, authors on “Cryptosphere,” a website that tracks hackers throughout the world, have chronicled dozens of similar hacks supposedly perpetrated by Team System DZ in recent years. They refer to the group as a “pro-ISIS hacker crew” and believe they operate in Algeria. The accuracy of these claims is unknown at this time.